The Philippines can learn a thing or two from Vietnam when it comes to independent foreign policy in the face of China’s territorial aggression in South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), a maritime expert said on Wednesday.
At a forum that marked the first year of the Philippines’ legal victory against China over the South China Sea, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said that the Philippines can learn from Vietnam in terms of diplomacy, security, and defense.
Golez cited Vietnam’s ties with the United States as an example: “On June 12, the US Navy announced that a US warship was conducting a port visit to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay for maintenance.”
“The engagement was the latest in a series that demonstrated the progress that Washington and Hanoi are making their defense relationship even amid the uncertainty that remained over US President Donald Trump’s commitment to Asia,” he said.
He also noted Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Trump, offering him multi-billion dollar trade and defense deals. The Prime Minister indicated the willingness to but $15 billion worth of goods from the US.
Vietnam is also building strong relations with India, and even entered a joint oil development undertaking with India in the South China Sea.
Golez also recalled how Vietnam stood up against China in the disputed South China Sea in 2014 when it resisted the entry of a Chinese oil rig inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“China withdrew after a violent standoff that lasted from May 2 to August 15, 2014,” he said, adding that there is another ongoing standoff between the two countries as China re-deployed its oil rig close to Vietnam’s EEZ.
He also noted that Vietnam is consistent with its defense capability build up in the acquisition of Kilo-class submarines and Su-30 planes and advanced missiles from Russia, and looking at Brahmos missiles from India.
“What we’re seeing here is a very skillful, diplomatic offensive, but at the same time beefing up their defense capabilities is something we can learn,” Golez said.
The Philippines won the historic case in The Hague last year, in a case filed during the Aquino administration. But when President Rodrigo Duterte won the elections last year, the Philippines turned non-confrontational in dealing with China over the sea dispute. Frances Mangosing / JPV
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